By David Fong
Regional Sports Content Manager
TROY — Growing up, Levi Fox wanted nothing to do with running — unless it meant running up and down the basketball court or around the basepaths.
“I had heard about cross country and track in junior high, but I really didn’t think anything of it,” Fox said. “But my mom convinced me to run in the Strawberry Festival 10K. I ran an OK time — something like 49 minutes, which isn’t bad for someone who had never trained before — and ended up winning an award for my age group.
“But my main thing was still playing basketball and baseball. Basically, I got tired of my mom asking me to try cross country, so I decided to do it as a freshman just so she would stop asking about it.”
Turns out mother knew best.
At his mother Trish’s prodding, Fox decided to run cross country as a freshman — kick-starting the greatest running career of any athlete in Troy High School history. Fox would go on to become a state placer in cross country and a state champion in track and field. His skills would eventually land him a spot on the cross county and track teams at The Ohio State University.
As a result of his success at the high school and collegiate level, Fox has been named one of five inductees in the 2014 Trojan Athletics Hall of Fame Class. Fox, a 2005 Troy High School graduate, will join Heath Murray (baseball), Mike Lyons (gymnastics), Carlton Kazmaier (coaching) and Leslie Wells (football and baseball) in this year’s class.
The five — all of whom comprise the second hall of fame class ever to be inducted — will be recognized before the Troy football team’s home opener Aug. 29 and again Aug. 30 at a banquet at the Crystal Room in Troy.
“It feels pretty good,” Fox said of being inducted into the Trojan Athletics Hall of Fame. “I’m excited for it. To be a part of the second class — and one of the first 15 to go into the hall of fame — is a great honor.”
With a little bit of a push from mom, Fox decided to run cross country his freshman year at Troy. It took a little more of a nudge to get him to go out for the track and field team that spring.
“I had decent success in cross country for a freshman,” he said. “But I wasn’t going to run track. I still wanted to play basketball and baseball like I had growing up. But some of the seniors on the cross country team and Coach (Bob) Campbell told me that I needed to run track — I couldn’t be successful in cross country if I took all that time off. I didn’t really do anything special in track my freshman year.”
All of that changed quickly for Fox, however.
As a sophomore, Fox placed second in the district cross country meet and qualified for the Division I state meet, where he placed in the top 25, good enough to earn All-Ohio honors. That spring, he placed fourth at regionals in the 3,200 and 12th at state.
He made another huge leap as a junior, taking first at districts, fifth at regionals and fourth at state in cross country. In track, he was a district champ in both the 1,600 and 3,200, was second at regionals in the 3,200 and took second at state in that event.
As a senior, he was first at districts, second at regionals and second at state in cross country. He also placed in the top 10 at the Footlocker National Championship meet, good enough to earn him second-team All-American honors. That spring, he finally captured the elusive state title, dusting the field in the 3,200. He also won the Greater Western Ohio Conference in both the 1,600 and 3,200, took first in both events at districts and was a regional champion in the 3,200.
By the time he graduated, Fox held school records in the 1,600 (4:16); 2,000 steeplechase (6:31); 3,200 (9:10); 5,000 (15:23) and as a member of the 4x800 relay team (7:57).
Following high school, Fox competed in both cross country and track for the Buckeyes, earning three letters in both sports. He was a part of two NCAA national qualifying cross country teams and two Big 10 runner-up cross country teams.
Not bad for a kid who didn’t want to compete in cross country or track and field.
“My mom never lets me forget about that,” Fox said. “Every time something would go right with my running career, she would always remind me.”
Fox has continued his competitive running career since graduating from Ohio State. He recently qualified for the Boston Marathon, which he will run in 2015. He was married to his wife, Emily, in 2013 and works for UTC Aerospace in Troy.
“Running has become a way of life for me,” he said. “Even back when I was in high school, I missed a lot of dances because I didn’t want it to affect my sleep schedule. Homecoming was in the fall during cross country season and prom was in the spring, right around the same time as the league and district meets. I didn’t want to stay up late and go to dances because of how it would affect my sleep. Running is a big part of my life.”
Mother really did know best.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong